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On screen in one of the biggest infomercials on television, 21 Day Fix® by BeachBody, Autumn Calabrese is a big personality. But in person, the amateur bikini competitor is a hardbodied pixie, coming in at 5’4” and 110 well-deserved pounds — a fact she would like to emphasize, since she is a hardgainer and has had to work diligently to put on the muscle she currently carries.
A former dancer, muscle was never her main goal, but she did dabble now and again at the collegiate gym as she pursued her dance major. “I would go in, use the treadmill and play with the 5-pound weights,” she says. “But I basically didn’t know what else to do.”
A bulging disc in her lower back would be the fortunate misfortune that changed her tack, requiring Calabrese to give up professional dance and move to LA in search of whatever came next. She became interested in personal training and got certified through NASM. Soon she had a solid list of LA bigwigs under her tutelage, and it snowballed from there.
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Now, a dozen years later, the single mom of one son is an overnight infomercial queen as well as an accomplished bikini competitor, with three top-10 finishes to her name. “I would like to get back up onstage, but work is keeping me very busy right now,” she says. “I won’t do anything if I can’t give it my all, but I’d like to get there again soon.”
Working It Out
Even though she is being pulled in 10 directions at once, Calabrese makes the time to work out every day. Her own training is similar to that in her DVDs — multi-joint, multi-functional moves done in a brisk 30-minute circuit — but there’s one difference: Calabrese likes to lift heavy. “Women are afraid of lifting heavy, but we don’t have the testosterone to get big,” she says. “Because I go heavier, my rest time is a little longer to allow for proper recovery, so I usually train for 45 to 60 minutes.”
Calabrese has compiled some of her favorite do-anywhere glute moves so you can begin building your butt before the new year. Do this workout up to twice a week, leaving at least two full days between for recovery; or alternately, incorporate one or more of these moves into your regular leg-training regimen.
Setup: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes forward, and hold a set of dumbbells at your sides.
Move: Kick your hips back and then bend your knees to squat, lowering until your hamstrings are parallel to the ground. Drive through your heels to rise to the start, then continue to rise up onto your toes. Pause a moment and squeeze, then lower your heels and repeat.
Tip: Keep your chest lifted throughout to help shift your weight into your heels.
Setup: Stand next to the broad side of a flat bench and hold a single dumbbell at your left shoulder. Place your left foot fully and squarely on top of the bench.
Move: Extend your left leg to stand up on top of the bench. Bring your right knee up until your thigh is parallel with the ground, then slowly lower back to the start, leaving your left foot on top of the bench. Do all reps on one side before switching.
Tip: Add a shoulder press at the top and control the eccentric (descending) portion of your rep to boost the challenge.
Side Lunge/Curtsey Lunge
Setup: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes forward, and hold a dumbbell at your left shoulder, elbow down.
Move: Take a large step to the left and bend your left knee, shooting your hips back while keeping your chest lifted and your right leg straight. Push off the left foot to return to the center, then immediately cross your left leg behind your right, keeping your hips square and bending both knees to drop into a curtsey. Extend both legs to return to the start. Do all reps on one side before switching.
Tip: Drop your back knee down as close to your standing leg heel as you can to really hit the glutes.
Lateral Band Walk
Setup: Hold a resistance band handle in each hand, then stand in the center of the band. Cross the handles into an X in front of you, then kick your hips back to lower into a squat.
Move: Maintain your squat as you take two steps to the left then two steps to the right, alternating sides for one minute.
Tip: Keep enough tension on the band to provide a significant amount of resistance.
Setup: Position your shoulders and upper back in the center of a flat bench and hold a barbell across your hips just below the bone. Place your feet flat on the floor about hip-width apart and lower your glutes until they almost touch the floor.
Move: Press your hips straight up toward the ceiling, squeezing your glutes and pausing a moment at the top before slowly lowering to the start and repeating right away.
Tip: Drive through your heels to make this glute-intensive. You can also change the position of your feet — closer, farther, toes straight, toes out — to change the emphasis on the glutes.
Banded Heel Press
Setup: Wrap a resistance band securely around your foot (see “The Safest Way to Wrap”) and get on all fours with your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips.
Move: Extend your banded foot away from you, keeping your foot flexed and your leg parallel to the ground. Squeeze a moment, then slowly return to the start. Do all reps on one side before switching.
Tip: For additional work, hold your leg parallel at the end of your set and do 20 hamstring curls, heel to butt.